Qualities of a Good Salsa Dance Instructor
So you have decided you are going to take up SALSA dancing. You are excited. You have
heard so much about SALSA and your friends know how to dance. You also decided that
you are not just going to learn from just anyone. You want a quality instructor.
What are the qualities of a good salsa instructor? Listed below are a few qualities to look for
in a good SALSA instructor.
Knowledge – The instructor must be knowledgeable. This is very important. The
instructor should be able to answer the questions of the students with ease. The instructor
must be the expert in the dance. The instructor must be a “student of SALSA”
herself/himself. The students should never walk away wondering if the instructor knows
what he/she is teaching. A knowledgeable instructor would have taken countless instruction
himself/herself. The instructor that is knowledgeable should be able to demonstrate and/or
explain well the topic at hand.
Experience – The instructor must be an experienced dancer. This means the instructor
has danced socially for a while ( a few years) and has danced with a wide range of dancers.
Dancing with a wide variety of dancers creates an experience that is unmatched. The
instructor doesn’t need to have won many competitions or even involved in competition. This
doesn’t make the instructor a good instructor. If you are looking to compete or perform then
you must seek an instructor that has those kinds of experiences.
Clear – The instructor must be able to present the information clearly. The instructor must
also be able to find different ways to explain the move or combination. Not everyone learns
the same way. The instructor must be able to find a way to get through to each student. Clear
demonstrations are important. Clear explanations go a long way.
Caring – The instructor should care about the quality of instruction being taught and the
well being of the students. It is very beneficial to the student if the instructor cares about
whether the students are understanding and learning or not. Students react positively to a
Patience – The instructor that shows patience will win the hearts of the students. Some
students learn slower than others. Giving the students time and being patient in explaining the
combinations will generate good dancers. Being patient shows the instructor wants the
students to learn.
Passionate – The instructor must be passionate about SALSA. Anyone that has some
knowledge about SALSA could try to teach it but it will be very evident that there is no fire.
SALSA is a sexy, passionate dance. The instructor must and should be able to show this
passion and love for the dance. The instructor will normally be energetic too!
Personable – The instructor must be approachable and personable. Having a drill
sergeant has it’s place in the dance world but not always. The instructor that has a great
personality, loves the dance and encourages the students to ask questions will have many
repeat students and referrals. Students learn well when they are comfortable with the
instructor. A snotty instructor will always push students away. A great personality will win
over good looks any day.
Social Dancer – The instructor should be a social dancer. The best SALSA instructors
(like Edie the Salsa Freak, Super Mario, Ismael Otero, etc) are all social dancers. They
dance with everyone. They go where SALSA music is played. It is all about the dance.
There is such a rewarding feeling to the student when the instructor dances with them in
public. How do you know if the instructor is really good if you have not seen her/him dance
socially? In the SALSA world, the good instructors are out in public dancing. Go to a
popular ‘salsa’ club and you will see many instructors there. Their dancing is one of their
BEST advertising tool. But a word of caution, a good dancer doesn’t always equate to
a good instructor. Teaching requires a different kind of skill set.
Enjoys Teaching – The instructor that enjoys teaching and teaches well will make the
students feel they want to take more lessons from that instructor and will not hesitate to
recommend the instructor to others. It is contagious! The passion is shown, the instruction is
clear, time flies by so fast AND having fun is at the forefront. The energy level is normally
high here! The students WILL see this. The students WILL feel it. When the instructor
enjoys teaching and has FUN doing it, the students do learn faster.
In Control – The instructor that is in control of the class will be given respect by the
students. This doesn’t mean the class is like a military training camp. It means that the
instructor doesn’t allow the class to get out of hand. The instructor knows how to balance
goofing around with actual learning time. The instructor commands the class.
These are just a few things to look for in a SALSA instructor. Actually in any dance
instructor (minus being an expert in salsa). You will not know many of these qualities unless
you have done your research (talking to other students and getting their feedback on the
instructor or by interviewing the instructor).
Take your time and choose well. If one instructor doesn’t work out for you, go to the next
one. Remember, you are the one paying so this means YOU are the one that needs to be
satisfied. Many can dance and many can dance very well but this doesn’t mean they
Good luck in your search for YOUR salsa instructor.
Author: John “salseroblanko” Morey – SALSA SPECIALIST